In August 2016 I wrote about number one: urine. You must have been holding your breaths for a long time, waiting for number two. Here it is!
“All disease starts in the gut” said Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, so it’s worth paying attention.
The food you eat, normally takes from 18 to 72 hours to pass all the way through. Most people go once or twice a day, but whether it’s three times a day or three times a week, as long as you are happy with it, it’s ok. You’ll know it if you’re constipated, because you’ll feel gassy and bloated and strain a lot to produce unusually hard stools.
The following symptoms show that things may not be quite right. Don’t worry too soon though, for food colouring and medications can also affect the look of your poo.
If you produce
• separate hard lumps, you lack fibre and fluids. Even if you go every day, you may still be constipated. Drink water; eat more fruit (pears) and veg, especially with magnesium (leafy greens, spinach, kale); nuts, seeds and whole grains .
• watery, liquid stuff, you have diarrhoea – see Thought August ’15. Drink lots!
• very loose stools, but not diarrhoea: you may consume too much fructose, artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol or oily foods; have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease, food poisoning or stomach flu. For more details and causes, see .
• not a lot, and/or not often – you’re constipated. Usually you can do something about that yourself, just by improving your diet. See . Not enough healthy fats like proper butter, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and wholefat dairy, also have a constipating effect.
• floaters – unless you have eaten lots of beans, sprouts or large meals, this means you don’t absorb fats. See .
• pencil-thin stools for more than a few days, either you’re constipated or it could be polyps, hemorrhoids, prostate enlargement or cancer.
• cracked stool, with a good sausage shape but cracks on the surface, this can be due to poor diet or a sedentary life.
If the colour is other than medium-light brown, it may well be due to food dyes or particular medicines. If not, and the colour is
• green: you eat lots of leaves, take an iron supplement or you’re pregnant. If not any of these, food may be moving through too fast .
• yellow: you’ve had carrots, sweet potatoes or turmeric. If it’s also foul-smelling, this could mean excess fat, gastroesophagial reflux disease (GERD), giardiasis or coeliac disease.
• black: you’ve consumed iron supplements, charcoal, bismut subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol), or dark food like liquorice, black/blueberries or grape juice. Stool can appear darker with constipation. If it’s not that, it can mean internal bleeding, particularly if it’s sticky. See a doctor soon .
• light, white or clay-coloured, this can be due to some medicines, or bile obstruction.
• red: it is due to beet, tomatoes, cranberries or there could be blood in your stool, see .
• explosive, seaweed-green and it’s liquid, this is a sign of clostridium difficile and happens usually after antibiotics.
Each of the following websites gives a slightly different picture – and pictures, as well! Have a look .
In general: most day-to-day variations in the appearance of poo come from food or drink. Medicines too have strange effects. However, if it’s bright red, black, or pale, consistently thin or pencil-like, loose or watery, or accompanied by mucus or pus, or if you have additional symptoms like abdominal pain, see your doctor right away.
And, by the way, squatting is the most effective way to move your bowel, but failing that, when on the toilet, sit with your feet on a little stool and lean forward.
If you want some more tips about ‘going to the bathroom’, see , though some may be a bit American …. do you use an air dryer down there?
veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels’, chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
fish: crab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.
broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce.
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don’t use your old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in South England, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.
What else can you still do in the garden? See http://www.thompson-morgan.com/what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-september.
I haven’t tried this yet – no bitter lettuce in my garden this year so far! But it sounds good: http://tendingmygarden.com/lettuce-delicious-as-a-cooked-green/.
What to do with TURNIPS?
– Chop an onion. Slice a turnip across the fiber, thinly. Add pepper, ginger, nutmeg and/or paprika powder. Sauté till tender.
– Cook a turnip, mash; mix with applesauce 4:1, and bacon bits. Heat in a casserole.
– Cook with potatoes for mash.
– Turnip goes well with: carrot, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, savory and tarragon.
COURGETTE CURRY SOUP
450g courgettes, 500ml water/stock, 1 diced onion, 1 tblsp butter, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tblsp curry powder, sour cream/yoghurt, chopped chives, salt, pepper.
Sauté onion in butter till soft, chop courgettes, add, sauté till soft. Add stock/water, cayenne, curry powder. Simmer 10 mins, blend. Add cream/yoghurt, salt and pepper. Top with chives.
WARM FRENCH BEAN SALAD
450g French beans, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tblsp cider vinegar, 4 tblsp olive oil, sea salt, pepper, shallot, garlic, (fresh chervil, 1 tblsp capers).
Cook beans till just done. Put mustard and vinegar into bowl, stir oil in. Season, add chopped shallot, (capers) and squashed garlic. Drain beans, dress while they’re hot, serve warm. (Sprinkle with chervil.)
COURGETTES-RUNNER BEAN SALAD, serves 2 (recipe by Angela Hartnett).
300g runner beans, 2 sliced courgettes, 250g cooked butter beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 sliced garlic clove, chopped mint, (fresh coriander), thick yoghurt or vegan substitute for serving. For the vinaigrette: 40ml olive oil, 10ml cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp mustard.
Sauté courgettes with oil and garlic for 6 mins. Slice runner beans into 5cm pieces and cook in salted boiling water for 5 mins. When the courgettes are coloured, transfer to a warm bowl and cover to retain heat. Drain beans and combine with butter beans and courgettes. Whisk dressing, add mint, and mix with the veg which should be still warm. Serve at room temperature with yoghurt on top.
PEANUTTY VEG FOR ONE
150g vegetables like carrot, raw beet, celeriac, Florence fennel; 1/2 tblsp peanut butter; 1 smallish onion; 1 clove garlic; butter; chilli/cayenne pepper; salt.
Sauté sliced onion, vegetables and garlic in plenty of butter for a while. Add some water, cover and simmer very gently till done to your liking. Put peanut butter in a bowl and loosen with a bit of the hot liquid. Add to veg, along with lots of red pepper and salt. Serve.
1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup stock or water, ab. 600g cleaned kohlrabi, salt and pepper, 2-4 tbsp. sour cream (grated mature cheese).
Lightly sauté minced garlic until it becomes a bit translucent. Add water/stock, and bring to a low boil. Wash kohlrabi and trim away any stems. Chop into 2cm cubes. Add to stock, and return it to a boil, then turn it down. Simmer until tender. Uncover and simmer some more till the liquid has evaporated. Mash until smooth. Add salt, pepper and sour cream, heat through, serve.
2 slices firm bread, 225g crabmeat, 1.5 tblsp oil, 1 tsp lemon juice and some wedges, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire or soy sauce, 1 large egg, beaten, 2 tblsp butter.
Tear bread into small pieces into a bowl with crab. Add oil, Worcestershire/soy, egg, a pinch of salt. Mix gently but thoroughly, then form into 4 patties. Heat butter until the foam subsides, then cook the cakes, turning once, until golden brown.
BEAN FEAST for ONE
150g runner beans, 150g potatoes, (red) onion, egg (garlic), paprika powder, chilli or cayenne powder, cumin, coriander, butter, salt.
Chop potatoes and cook in salted water for 5 mins, then add chopped beans. Toast cumin and squashed coriander seeds, then add plenty of butter, chopped onion, garlic, chilli and paprika powder. Just before everything is done, break the egg on top of the sautéing stuff, fry till done to your liking. Drain potatoes/beans, put on a plate, top with onion/egg mix. Or use some (leftover) meat or grated cheese instead of egg.